Patently not patents?

I used to be bemused, confused, even slightly irritated, decades ago, when I read stories about broad all-encompassing patents given on things that were patently public domain for millenia. Examples are attempts to patent the curative properties of turmeric, or the name and style and quality of basmati rice. Read this and related stories if you want to know more.

Some of you may be aware of the recent debates and lawsuit involving Blackboard and Desire2Learn, and possibly dragging in opensource providers Moodle and Sakai. You can find the BBC coverage quoting Michael Geist here.

I quote from the BBC article:

Interestingly, open source and internet tools are emerging as the first line of defence against the Blackboard patent and lawsuit. Angry educators have launched an online petition calling on Blackboard to drop the lawsuit and to agree to forego any future patent suits.

I am not sure whether open source information has been used as a defence before, but this becomes a case to watch and to learn from.

One of the other sites referred to, noedupatents, looks interesting, but I have not yet had time to research it.

This whole story is yet another reason why the current IPR regime needs changing.

Dannie, Clarence, any comments?

3 thoughts on “Patently not patents?”

  1. many large companies have made 100’s of millions by copying or re-engineering IP that others ( small guys) have created.
    we need patents to protect our Intellectual property, although there may be patents granted that are questionable and even ludicrous, the system as a whole still works. There is talk abut reform, however the USPTO are the culprits and they need to reform how and what they consider intellectual property and what should remain in public domain.

  2. JP, I wanted to reply to this by email, however I sent you an email and I got a demon message that it was undeliverable… Can you send me your email to dannie dot jost at gmail dot com. thanks.

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